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It has been a busy week in the Big Apple with the Yankees losing Robinson Cano to the Mariners and coming to terms with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Hiroki Kuroda. The Mets meanwhile were able to sign Curtis Granderson away from the Pinstripes. Here's the latest on the New York teams:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, he's not done making moves. "I've got work to do," Cashman said. "I need a starter, bullpen, second base. We’ve still got work." Cashman also addressed a report Cano had reservations about playing for manager Joe Girardi. "I'm not aware of that. You'd have to ask Robbie, I guess. It's never been an issue that I'm aware of."
- The Mets are one of seven or eight teams who have inquired about Johan Santana, sources tell The Star-Ledger's Jorge Castillo. Michael Baron of Metsblog.com doubts any team will offer Santana more than a minor league deal because of his shoulder issues. The Mets opted for a $5.5MM buyout of Santana's $25MM club option in November making the 34-year-old left-hander a free agent.
- The Yankees have checked on free agent right-hander Mike Pelfrey, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Yankees are interested in a reunion with Raul Ibanez but he isn't a top priority for them, tweets the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Ibanez, despite being 41, is being courted by teams in both leagues including the Rockies, Braves, Mariners, and Rangers, Sherman tweets.
- The focus of both the Yankees and Mets will be on the trade market rather than free agents during the Winter Meetings, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Martino adds, in a separate tweet, the Mets were never in on Scott Feldman and don't seem to be in play for mid-rotation help.
- CC Sabathia was surprised by Cano's decision because he did not expect the Yankees to allow Cano to leave, and he did not expect Cano to actually go, reports Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. "Just a player like that, putting on the pinstripes, and being able to play your whole career in New York means something – to me, obviously," Sabathia said. "It didn't mean that much to him. It's a difficult choice being a free agent. And he made a tough choice. I know he's happy with his decision, and his family's happy. So that's good."
Major League Baseball considers the Biogenesis investigation closed in terms of looking into players, but they're still investigating the possible involvement of some agents, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Here's more from around baseball..
- Speaking of Biogenesis, MLB released a statement saying that Miguel Tejada did not warrant any discipline based on what they uncovered in the investigation, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Of course, Tejada will still have to serve his 105-game suspension for amphetamine use.
- Jose Dariel Abreu is working on establishing residency in Haiti and there isn't an open showcase scheduled yet, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter). Abreu has drawn interest from several clubs so far including the Red Sox, Orioles, Pirates, and White Sox.
- The status of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is expected to be updated if not entirely clarified within the next few days, people familiar with the situation tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. When asked about speculation that the M's could make a play for Brian Cashman, club president Chuck Armstrong spoke positively of the Yankees GM but wouldn't discuss him in context.
- The Athletics continue to look for catching help as they have been for the past couple of weeks or so, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- In retrospect, the Cardinals really could have used Kyle Lohse this season, writes Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
With the Red Sox losing the division lead for the first time in two months, here's the latest from a hotly contested American League East …
- The deal that brought Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees was consummated over the objections of GM Brian Cashman, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "I would say we are in a desperate time," said Cashman. "Ownership wants to go for it. I didn't want to give up a young arm." The club dealt young righty Corey Black (and took on salary) to add the 37-year-old Soriano. MLBTR's Steve Adams rounded up the reactions to the deal yesterday.
- Cashman's latest overruling continues a trend, Sherman further reports in the same piece. Most recently, Cashman reportedly preferred signing catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz this last offseason. Instead, ownership pushed a two-year, $13MM deal with Ichiro Suzuki. While the Yanks could have Martin and Schierholtz playing right now on one-year deals, says Sherman, the team instead has an aging Ichiro-Soriano combination set to earn $11.5MM next season.
- The Red Sox must add talent, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, or risk dropping back in a tight AL East race. Silverman opines that the club should call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts to provide much-needed pop from the left side of the infield. Meanwhile, with Clay Buchholz still not on a clear timetable and with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez choosing the Phillies over the Sox, Silverman says that Boston should also make a deal for a starter.
- Should Boston make a move to bolster its rotation, one player who could be dealt is third baseman Will Middlebrooks. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports that Middlebrooks, who is trying to work his way back to the form he showed in his 2012 rookie campaign, has heard the rumors for the first time in his recollection. "I'm just trying to keep my nose out of it," Middlebrooks said. The 24-year-old indicated that he remains content in the Red Sox organization in spite of his struggles this year: "I have a good opportunity here. I don't need to get traded to have a good opportunity."
- Looking at Boston's recent history, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal suggests that the team could look to pick up a somewhat under-the-radar player that can contribute not just this season, but in the future. MacPherson notes that the Sox added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2010), shortstop Mike Aviles (2011), and reliever Craig Breslow (2012) when the price proved right and the deal met the club's multi-year needs. This season, with Saltalamacchia nearing free agency and backup David Ross injured, the team could look to deal for a backstop with future control even as it gives playing time to prospect Ryan Lavarnway. MacPherson suggests the Padres' Nick Hundley as a possibility, while noting that San Diego could be hesitant to move him.
With the Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly at Yankee Stadium today, Yankees GM Brian Cashman discussed the process that resulted in Yanks' manager Joe Girardi getting the gig over Donnie Baseball back in 2007. Cashman considered those two gentlemen along with fellow late-80's/early-90's favorite Tony Pena. Managing the Yankees, explains Cashman, requires a wide range of skills that go well beyond the playing field. Ultimately, he said that Mattingly lacked the managerial experience that he was looking for: "The area that was a very difficult hurdle for him at the time, and obviously he doesn't have that anymore to deal with, is obviously at the time, he hadn't managed a game in the big leagues. So was I going to be in a position to be comfortable enough to turn over $200 million worth of assets to someone who hadn't done that before in-game."
Here are a few notes from some other American League clubs:
- The City of San Jose has brought suit against Major League Baseball relating to the Athletics' potential move to the city, alleging various federal and state antitrust claims along with a claim for interference with prospective economic advantage. In a piece for Fangraphs yesterday, Wendy Thurm gave an excellent overview of the background legal principles governing the dispute, along with the procedural and strategic considerations that will frame it. The situation could, of course, have a major impact on the A's budget moving forward. I highly recommend a read.
- Moving to the AL Central, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan took a look at the Royals' impressive recent run of pitching-fueled success. Even as the team's offense continues to sputter, its starters (and excellent defense) have allowed KC to regain traction in the postseason race. Of course, the squad's rotation is led by arms that were acquired in a series of heavily-scrutinized transactions. GM Dayton Moore traded for James Shields and Wade Davis, dealt for Ervin Santana, and gave a three-year deal to free agent Jeremy Guthrie. While Davis has struggled and Guthrie's peripherals are concerning, the collective rotation ERA stands at 7th in baseball.
- As the Royals gear up to try and make a run at the playoffs, the AL Central-rival White Sox appear to be readying to sell at the trade deadline. As MLB.com's Kelly Erickson reports, GM Rick Hahn says the team has "had some phone calls — more of the vulture-type phone calls, the type that traditionally we're more accustomed to making." Given the "hole that we've dug for ourselves," says Hahn, "teams are going to look at us as potential sellers when the deadline comes, and they're starting to lay a little bit of that ground work now."
- The Mariners are coming up on some roster decisions with Dustin Ackley hitting the ball well in Triple-A and Franklin Gutierrez close to returning from the 60-day DL, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. While Ackley's return to the bigs has been delayed while he learns to man the outfield, the seemingly inevitable result will be some roster casualties. Baker tabs outfielder Endy Chavez and pitcher Aaron Harang as potential candidates for the waiver wire.
If you are looking for some interesting reading this evening, have a look at the evolution of the defensive shift as told by Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Meanwhile, let's take a look at some American League clubs and ballplayers:
- We heard on Wednesday that the Yankees were looking for a right-handed bat, and all signs point to that need being real. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Jayson Nix, who sports a career .365 slugging percentage, has been taking balls at first base in case the team wants a righty to spell Lyle Overbay. Nix has held down third base while Kevin Youkilis works his way back, but the Yanks' recent acquisition of Chris Nelson provides the club with another option at the hot corner.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman deserves a ton of credit for finding value in Overbay, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. There may be a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel for the scrambling Cashman, however. Hoch reports that Ivan Nova, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Youkilis are all expected to report to the Yankees' Tampa facility for rehab work. Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson has been playing in extended spring training since Wednesday.
- Count Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer as a fan of the Indians' decision to trade for young pitcher Trevor Bauer this offseason. Hoynes writes that Bauer is ready to be a successful big leaguer this year, and may be the most talented pitching prospect in Cleveland since a certain CC Sabathia.
- Of course, all three teams involved in the deal that brought Bauer to the Indians seem to have gotten what they wanted out of the deal (at least so far). In addition to Bauer, outfielder Drew Stubbs is off to a fairly promising start for Cleveland, and currently sports a .284/.340/.420 line. The Indians have also enjoyed quality bullpen work from Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo has clobbered the ball for the Reds, putting up a .330/.467/.541 line. He has done so while playing a passable, albeit below average, center field. And the Diamondbacks not only seem quite pleased with shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius, who is off to a .407/.448/.778 start in his first 30 plate appearances, but have received solid production from veteran reliever Tony Sipp.
- Of course, not all deals turn out the way you hope. As ESPN's Buster Olney notes on Twitter, Twins fans are (or should be) cringing at the hot start for the Brewers' Carlos Gomez. After emerging as a solid regular center fielder last season, Gomez is putting up excellent power, speed, and on-base numbers thus far in 2013. The Twins shipped Gomez to Milwaukee in return for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season, and later sent Hardy to the Orioles to make way for the failed Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment. In exchange for Hardy, in turn, the Twins got a pair of young righties — Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson — who have failed to deliver any value to the club.
- While the full ramifications of trades often take years to clarify, the Blue Jays could be wondering already how the recent trade for R.A. Dickey will turn out. As Mark Simon of ESPN.com explains, Dickey is failing to get hitters to chase pitches outside the zone, which could attributable in part to decreased knuckleball velocity. On the other side of the ledger, the Mets have surprisingly received incredible production from a seemingly minor piece of that deal — catcher John Buck — and were able to slot prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard atop the team's prospect list.
Let's take a quick trip around four of baseball's five most valuable franchises, according to Forbes:
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed the team's offseason strategy and looked ahead to the new season in a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News. When asked about the decision to add yet more older players to his club, Amaro said that "age is a factor," but not the only factor. "I've said this before and [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman has said this before," said Amaro. "I don't worry so much about age as I do about production." Amaro did note that the team figures to get younger in the outfield with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown expected to occupy two starting spots.
- Meanwhile, the club has announced its Opening Day roster, which includes outfielder Ender Inciarte, according to a team tweet. As MLBTR previously noted, the 22-year-old Rule 5 draftee has yet to appear above High-A ball. Inciarte will remain Phillies property so long as he sticks on the club's 25-man roster (or is placed on the DL) for the duration of the season. Click here for an explanation of the Rule 5 Draft. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com tweets that he expects Inciarte to be returned to the Diamondbacks when Delmon Young is ready to join the club.
- Turning to Cashman's Yankees, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman pulled no punches when reviewing the club's offseason, writing that "no one had a worse spring training than baseball's most storied team, maybe ever." Heyman further reports that, in spite of their public proclamations and massive payroll, the Yanks' brass is very concerned internally about the club's prospects for 2013. Likewise, ESPN's Jim Bowden predicted that New York would finish last in the AL East, writing that the club could sport a losing record for the first time since 1992.
- Meanwhile, first baseman Lyle Overbay has made the Yankees Opening Day roster, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reported on Twitter. The 36-year-old was inked shortly after being released by the Red Sox. MLB.com's Bryan Hoch previously reported that Overbay signed what Cashman described as "a three-day, NBA-style contract" to allow the club to get "a quick peek" at the veteran. As McCullough wrote, Cashman has described his recent scramble to add players by evoking the famous Emma Lazarus line featured on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to break [sic] free."
- While nothing is yet official, Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. is heading with the club to New York, where the team opens against the Yankees on Monday, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. The club will need to clear a 40-man roster spot before it can select the contract of the young outfielder, notes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (on Twitter).
- The Cubs' front office is working hard to make final additions to the roster, writes Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune (must register to access article). After adding players like Luis Valbuena and Shawn Camp around this time last year, Rogers says, the club could be active on the waiver wire.
The Yankees made some last minute moves this week when they traded for Vernon Wells and picked up the recently-released Lyle Overbay. Both Wells and Overbay have made the club along with Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, leaving Juan Rivera as the odd man out. Tbe first baseman/outfielder was cut loose, though he did cash in on a $100K retention bonus for staying on the roster beyond Tuesday's Article XX(B) deadline. Here's more from the Junior Circuit..
- It's time for the Yankees to start looking for a replacement for Derek Jeter, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes. Eduardo Nunez, who is manning shortstop in Jeter's absence, is not a good solution for the long haul, Matthews argues, and Jeter's age and injury status are both worrisome. Matthews also suggests that the Yankees should have acquired Jose Reyes or Yunel Escobar in the offseason.
- Having gone in just days from being ticketed for Triple-A to being in the big-league rotation with a new contract extension, Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is thrilled with his recent streak of good fortune, reports MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "It certainly has been a great few days," says Happ. "There was a long time before that where it wasn't quite as easy, but this kind of makes it all worth it."
- After his team's signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, GM Chris Antonetti hopes the Indians will snag a playoff spot, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The organization felt it needed a splashy offseason to maintain the attention of its fanbase, Pluto writes. "There is risk whenever you make substantial investment," says Antonetti. "But for us, there was even more risk if we didn't."
Here are some notes from the big apple's two big league clubs:
- The Mets are "in desperate need of clearing several spots" on their 40-man roster, and have "put out word to other teams that they are interested in moving non-core prospects" who would have to pass through waivers to be retained, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. With the team likely in need of four roster vacancies to account for players who figure to be added to the 40-man before Opening Day, the Mets could look to move players such as Gonzalez Germen, Darin Gorski, Reese Havens, Juan Lagares, Cesar Puello, Elvin Ramirez, and Hansel Robles, according to Rubin.
- The Blue Jays could be interested in the aforementioned Havens, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Havens, a 25-year-old second baseman, has yet to see big league action and hit .215/.340/.351 over 390 Double-A plate appearances last year.
- After allowing him to reach free agency, the Brewers "didn't want to touch" Shaun Marcum this offseason due to injury concerns, tweets Martino. Marcum, now with the Mets, is looking unlikely to start the season in the rotation due to neck and shoulder issues, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com explains.
- The Yankees "will not receive credit on their 2014 luxury-tax payroll" for recently-acquired outfielder Vernon Wells, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Instead, "the charge for him will simply be zero." Rosenthal had previously discussed the complicated background of the Yankees' attempt to maximize their ability to get under the luxury tax threshold in structuring the Wells deal. Wells is still due $42MM over the next two seasons as he plays out the end of his 7-year, $126MM deal. As Rosenthal explains, the Yankees will pay him $13.9MM of the remaining obligation, with only $2.4MM of that allocated to 2014 for purposes of luxury tax avoidance.
- Rosenthal discussed the financial impact to the Yanks for acquiring Wells, questioning whether the club might have been better served by instead inking Russell Martin this off-season. In particular, Rosenthal explained that Martin told New York that he would agree to a one-year deal for around $9-10MM before he agreed to terms with the Pirates on a two-year, $17MM contract.
- Discussing his contract, which he originally signed with the Blue Jays before it was famously assumed by the Angels, Vernon Wells acknowledged that "no one's worth that kind of money," tweets Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. Wells continued: "It’s what the market’s worth at that time … I caught the market at a good time."
- While commentators and fans seem skeptical of the Yankees' prospects for 2013, as well as their recent roster moves, GM Brian Cashman is resolute, writes McCullough (hat tip to River Ave. Blues). Cashman says that any notion of rebuilding is "just not part of our DNA," and rejects the notion that the team has been holding back on spending, though he acknowledges that he intends to "tread water until the guys come back." In terms of philosophy on long-term commitments, Cashman says he will not be "gun-shy," but nevertheless will be "more choosy" going forward.
- Cashman also discussed the decision not to beat the Mets' offer for then-Twins hurler Johan Santana. Unlike current Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia, Cashman noted, Santana profiled as a "high-risk player going forward, health-wise."
It’s no secret that the Yankees are searching for corner infield depth following Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury. GM Brian Cashman updated reporters on the team’s search earlier today, detailing interest in some veteran players. All links courtesy of Jack Curry of the YES Network and Joel Sherman of the New York Post on Twitter, unless noted otherwise..
- Jones got a "good chuckle" upon learning of the Yankees' interest in him, agent B.B. Abbott told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Cashman called Derrek Lee a Yankees type because of his approach and makeup, Curry reports. The Yankees recently reached out to Lee to see if he’d come out of retirement to play in New York. Asked about the chances of completing a deal, Cashman noted that Lee isn’t with the Yankees now. The GM is not currently optimistic about signing Lee, according to Sherman.
- Cashman said he’d sign Chipper Jones if the third baseman were willing to come out of retirement, Sherman reports. The GM said his interest in Jones was serious and that he intended to call his agent, Curry notes. However, B.B. Abbott told Sherman that he can’t see his client coming out of retirement. "I don't think [playing for the Yankees] is something he would consider, but he would be flattered,” Abbott said.
- Cashman also investigated the possibility of signing free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, Curry reports. The GM hinted that Rolen wants a guarantee of playing time and/or money, however.
- The Dodgers and Reds both offered Rolen $4MM only to have him turn the proposals down, according to Sherman, who has heard that Rolen would only play for a guaranteed salary.
GM Brian Cashman explains how the Yankees nearly traded Mariano Rivera for shortstop Felix Fermin in spring of 1996, as noted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. To describe the deal as "franchise-altering" would be an enormous understatement, since it would have affected not only Rivera but also then-rookie Derek Jeter.
Cashman, then an assistant GM, says that then-owner George Steinbrenner was concerned about entrusting Jeter with the starting shortstop job, and "it was a fight to convince The Boss to stand down" and avoid trading Rivera or Bob Wickman to the Mariners for Fermin. "And it wasn't because we knew what we had in Mo or Wickman," Cashman says. "It was, we had committed to go with young Jeter, and thankfully we didn't do that deal." As it turned out, Jeter won the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, Rivera finished third in Cy Young balloting, and the Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978. The Mariners, meanwhile, released Fermin in April, and he only ended up posting 19 more plate appearances in the majors. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- David Robertson tops the list of potential Yankees closer candidates once Rivera retires at the end of the season, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are also possibilities, Berry says. The Yankees have an entire year to choose a successor, however.
- The Orioles are on the lookout for catching depth, report Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com and Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Matt Wieters is, clearly, entrenched as Baltimore's starter, and Taylor Teagarden will likely serve as his backup, but the Orioles are concerned about their depth beyond those two. The only other catcher on their 40-man roster is Luis Exposito, although manager Buck Showalter is also curious about new addition Luis Martinez, who spent much of 2012 with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock. With Wieters and several other options in the fold, it seems unlikely the O's will make a major move for a catcher, despite what Kubatko calls their "sloppy" play behind the dish this spring. Dubroff suggests that Eli Whiteside of the Rangers, Miguel Olivo of the Reds and Chris Snyder of the Nationals might be possibilities.
- The Dodgers' Aaron Harang says he isn't worried about rumors that he'll be traded, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes. "I don't even think about that," says Harang. "We know [scouts are] in the stands. I look at them as fans as well. I'm not worried about that." The Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitching, and Harang currently doesn't have a clear shot at a rotation job. The Brewers and Orioles could be potential suitors for Harang.